Not a lot of ISO consultants can say they are ISO 9001:2015 certified, but SimpleQuE is an exception. It is something the company is very proud of, according to simpleQuE president, Jim Lee. We recently sat down with Jim to find out why this certification helps his company stand apart from the rest. Here’s a look at our conversation.
simpleQuE: Jim, you just completed your 2015 upgrade. Why is that important?
Jim Lee: As ISO consultants we practice what we preach. Not many ISO consultants are ISO 9001:2015 certified, but we are, and with an accredited registrar. When we consult to help companies upgrade to the new standard, we know what we’re talking about.
simpleQuE: How does being ISO certified make you more effective at what you do for your clients?
Jim Lee: 90 percent of our competition are one-man shops that are not ISO certified. For our size, with the systems and processes we have in place to manage the large number of projects and wide variety of activities, we use our ISO to help us prioritize our risks and strive for more robust systems, plan for change, and deal with exceptions to the process. It also helps us ensure that we implement robust business processes that require us to monitor the effectiveness of those processes for ongoing improvement, to minimize risks to our customers and simpleQuE.
simpleQuE: What are your plans for implementing the 2015 changes?
Jim Lee: We just completed our upgrade audit and had one minor finding. We’ve completed our corrective actions and root cause analysis and have closed that finding with the certification body. Now we’re just waiting for the certificate! We utilized our gap analysis checklist (one of our more popular products) to help us prepare for the upgrade.
simpleQuE: What does it mean to you that your company itself is ISO certified?
Jim Lee: It means that we have strategic planning that incorporates input from a variety of sources and takes into account all the factors affecting our business to set annual goals with ongoing monitoring. When processes are not effective or when performance is not going in the right direction, the management team knows about it and puts action plans in place to try to turn it around. That’s what ISO is about when you do it right and integrate the quality system with the business system. For me, being ISO certified is a visible message to our customers, potential customers, industry partners, employees, subcontractors and suppliers that we “live ISO” and are the leading consultant of choice.
Being ISO certified allows us to prove that Quality Excellence can be made Simple. That is what our company name means. Our simple approach has allowed us to have a one and a half page quality manual (for 10 years) and put our simple best practices to work in our own company. We don’t take a cookie cutter approach so we don’t implement our processes at our client sites. We look at what works for them and leave that alone, only focusing on those areas that don’t comply. Taking into account each company’s culture and unique situation results in different solutions for each client.
simpleQuE: How do you monitor if your team is keeping up with ISO standards?
Jim Lee: We do extensive training to remain competent. From attending multiple certification body training sessions, ANAB training (accreditation body), attending AAQG meetings (aerospace committee that writes their standards), reviewing the ISO TAG committee updates, and taking qualification exams that the 3rd party auditors must pass, we do everything we can to build our knowledge and share it among our consultants and auditors. We have paid for our staff training, including many of our subcontractors.
simpleQuE: Do you feel being ISO certified effects your levels of customer satisfaction?
Jim Lee: It helps us be more proactive in delighting our customers and celebrating the successes, and not waiting for negative feedback to react after a problem has occurred.
simpleQuE: How have your own SQ process improved since you’ve become ISO certified?
Jim Lee: Our processes have improved drastically as they’ve had to scale with our significant growth. We have various software tools and have built workflow logic into those tools to drive our processes and improve our efficiencies, while letting all of our staff see the same information in one central location from anywhere in the world. We continue to add more capabilities and improve our utilization of the tools we have. We also realized we can’t do all of the processes internally with our resources, so we ourselves hire many consultants who are experts in their fields to help us be the best we can (from recruiting, payroll, IT, website, social media, professional training, etc.)